20 Pounds – 29 Days

We all know what to do to become healthy. Sometimes it takes a team.

I sat across from Erika at a favorite restaurant last month. She is one of the unexpected delights to emerge from the supportive writing community that has become family since I began creating fiction. I knew she was a dietary consultant. Her social posts reflect her commitment to fitness. And she is a delight.

“Want to take me on in January?”

Of course, she did.

I learned during my days as a competitive runner how a plan isn’t enough to get you to a goal. You need a support system.

My plan was pretty simple: No more sugar pop (soda for those of you non-Michiganders). Minimal alcohol. Attention to food intake. Focus on burning calories.

Erika sent me supportive notes and advice every day. I reached out to my friend, John Kajander, a dedicated walker, to recruit him as an accountability buddy. We share screen shots of our Fitbit step outputs every night at bedtime.

Following the plan turned out to be easier than I expected. I remembered the mindful power of walking, even if it’s on a treadmill. And thinking about the fuel before putting it into my marvelous machine only required a few more brain cycles.

I still miss pasta and pizza. But doing without the fast food and the sugar was surprisingly easy.

I don’t keep track of my weight. Katie, our gifted primary care doc does that. But since I was being accountable, I stepped on the scale on December 29, just for the record.

This morning, 31 days later, I did it again. The number was 20 pounds lower.

Each of us requires a period of repetition to develop a habit. And the secret to cementing a habit into a lifestyle is intelligent flexibility. I’ve broken the plan occasionally this month. I was mindful of when and why and didn’t beat myself up. I always returned to the program.

In this moment, my goal is to continue doing the things I did to get here. My clothes fit better and I’m feeling pretty good for an old guy. I’m grateful to Erika, John and my beautiful wife for helping to facilitate my progress.

Every objective needs a clear definition, a purpose, a plan and a support system. It’s that simple. And it’s that hard.